Happy sunshine dress

Hello everyone! I promise this isn’t going be a huge ramble about the weather, even though I’m a total British cliché and actually enjoy talking about what’s happening out there. If I’ve ever talked to you about the weather, don’t think it’s just small talk… it honestly isn’t!

almond rock simplicity 2444 floral summer dress

So this is a dress I made last Summer! It was great for those sticky days when I needed to feel put together but stay as cool as possible. We’re not having so many of those right now. I have this really vivid memory of being out in Leeds with my mum and the sun was shining down on us and just loved wearing this dress. I also wore it to meet the gorgeous teeny newborn baby of my two good friends so the happy memories keep rolling.

almond rock simplicity 2444 floral summer dress

The cotton is a pretty print I found at B&M fabrics in the market but I’ve seen it online at Sew Over It called Cristabel and at Goldhawk Road. It’s a lightweight poplin with a touch of spandex. B&M had it on a blue base too.

almond rock simplicity 2444 floral summer dress

The dress is a Simplicity 2444 bodice with bigger armholes and thinner “straps” or should we still just call them shoulder seams? I used the Emery skirt from Christine Haynes because it’s so awesome; the perfect length and flared with the perfect A line. I added the pockets from the Emery too. I’m super happy with the fit of this dress now.

almond rock simplicity 2444 floral summer dress

The dress isn’t lined, just sewn up with the included facings which made it super quick to sew. The print means it isn’t that sheer but I definitely need a slip to wear the dress with tights. I installed a lapped zipper in the back because I am still on the quest to perfect these. This one is almost right, but the zipper pull shows a little.

almond rock simplicity 2444 floral summer dress

Oh and I rediscovered this necklace the other day too and really want to buy another big colourful piece like it. I systematically forget to wear jewellery every day. I really want to change that; although perhaps that means picking out jewellery the night before and laying it out for myself. That’s weird right? I have some lovely antique pieces from my family that I really regret not wearing more. Am I the only forgetful “accessoriser” out there?

V9000 and The Big Vintage Sew-along

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Wow I can’t believe my turn on the Vintage Sew-along blogger tour has come around. I hope you like what I have to share. (Sadly I’m back to taking my own pictures. Sorry about that. And the weather was awful so I had to take the pics inside. Extra sorry about that.)

almond rock v9000 vintage sew-along sew essential

So I became very interested when I saw V9000. It made me think about my version of V1044, probably because of the kimono sleeves. It went on the shortlist (thinking, well surely I’ll be swayed into making one of the other patterns) but I kept coming back to that lovely flat collar and full panelled skirt.

almond rock V9000 Big Vintage Sew-along John Kaldor Sew Essential

In all honesty I don’t think fully buttoned shirts suit me. I have a very short neck and when I’ve tried them before I just feel claustrophobic. So I thought a high buttoned FLAT collar could be the answer.

almond rock V9000 Big Vintage Sew-along John Kaldor Sew Essential

As you can tell I rounded the pattern pieces using a French curve and trimmed some height of the rest of the collar (probably too much) to create something a little reminiscent of Marilyn Monroe’s outfit here. I wanted to go for classic black and white but resisted for a pop of colour.

The panelled skirt is great for narrow fabrics while still achieving that full skirted effect and comes together so easily.

almond rock v9000 vintage sew-along sew essential

In terms of sizing the bodice is a size 8 at the shoulders a 10 around the body and a 14 around the waist. I didn’t adjust the length of the bodice or skirt amazingly. As a shorty I normally reduce the length of skirts as a rule but I really like the length of this dress. It fits fantastically when I wear the right bra – aka not the one from these pics. Isn’t it amazing how much of a difference that makes!

almond rock V9000 Big Vintage Sew-along John Kaldor Sew Essential

This John Kaldor microfibre is medium weight, glossy and a bit stretchy (like cotton sateen) with the drape of polyester. This print is called Ursula in burgundy and the fabric is from Sew Essential, priced £10.56 per metre.

The fabric print is large and abstract enough to avoid print matching. I think it looks like a papercut in a way. Or a hamsa tattoo?

almond rock V9000 Big Vintage Sew-along John Kaldor Sew Essential

Then I used plain black polyester from my stash for the collar and the self covered buttons, with a red invisible zip and red thread (almost all of my habby supplies were from Sew Essential in fact). I used some bias binding from my stash to hem the skirt.

Is it just me that overlooked how many awesome John Kaldor prints they have? OMG – I’m going back for some of those other floral and painterly prints. And it’s nice to pick up everything you need for a project in one place.

almond rock v9000 big vintage sew-along sew essential john kaldor

SO would you make this dress? Or have any of the other patterns from the BVSA Edit caught your fancy? I’d love to know.

Please take a look at the Edit on the Vintage Sewalong site because a proportion of proceeds from the pattern sales are going to a fantastic charity, The Eve Appeal as the work they’re doing into gynaecological cancer detection, education and prevention will surely resonate with the predominantly female sewing community.

Keep looking out for Sew-along posts because there are a lot of talented bloggers still to come and I can’t wait to see their makes. Here’s my moody shot to finish hehehe.

almond rock V9000 Big Vintage Sew-along John Kaldor Sew Essential

Big Vintage Sewing

Sewing and wearing vintage-inspired clothing is something I love to do. I often find these patterns have more interesting construction details and work well in both vintage look and modern fabrics.

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When I heard the line up for McCall’s Big Vintage Sew-along I was really excited. There are so many excellent patterns in there. If you haven’t checked out the full edit head to this foldline summary or see the site www.vintagesewing.co.uk. There are 20 patterns in total, from the 1930s through to the 1960s plus a couple of Gertie’s 50/60s inspired patterns (they’re understandably year-less but stylistically probably just dip into the 60s).

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Over the coming months you’ll see versions of all the patterns cropping up online thanks to the BV Sew-along blogger tour, this will keep the inspiration bubbling and hopefully help you get started.

If you just can’t wait to clock eyes on some vintage dresses, I’m here to help. I realised I’d already sewn four of the patterns from the edit! So take a look at my round up and let me know if you’re tempted to make any of the patterns yourself. I’ve included notes on things to watch out for and as getting the size right with vintage patterns is so important, detailed what size this 5ft4 lady with a 36” bust and 41” hip chose. Right, now you know how bootylicious I am, let’s get started!

(Warning: The pictures in this post were assisted by a professional make up artist and photographer who I coerced into making everything look nice but have not been airbrushed as proof by my sock lines hahaha)

V9127
almond rock v9127 vintage sewing

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When I saw the line art for this dress I knew it had to be mine. I MEAN SWOOOOON! And I can honestly say this dress makes me very proud. I used a berry crepe fabric I bought in Walthamstow market last year and made self covered buttons. I used a coordinating zip and seam binding. I’m not going to fib, this isn’t an easy dress as there are a couple of areas where you really need to focus. The construction is 90% done by pressing under seam allowance and then topstitching the panels together. That much topstitching NEEDS a special foot or you’re going to go insane, unpicking and redoing. The other area to focus on is the pockets at the top of those swan head darts. This is where I had to read the instructions 4 or 5 times. After all my hard work I preferred them basted shut! Go figure.

Notes:
1. I cut two sizes down from my measurements to make a close fitting shirtdress rather than coat dress. This is predominantly a size 6 graded to a 14 at the hip.
2. The skirt was shorted 12cm. I probably should have just shortened by 8cm but too late now.
3. It took three toiles to adjust for my small bust and narrow shoulders, a slight swayback, plus to practice the pockets!
4. My crepe was very light and the dress is unlined so I’d recommend more of a triple crepe or cotton instead.
5. GET A TOP-STITCHING FOOT (I used my stitch in the ditch foot with a right hand needle position).

B5209

almond rock B5209 vintage sewing

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A tea dress can be a wonderful addition to your wardrobe because it easily works for day time and occasions if done right. I liked the effect of B5209 when done in a print even though you lose the beautiful seam lines a little. This dress I’m definitely going to make another plain version. Here I used a Liberty tana lawn from Minerva Crafts (they have some left in multiple colours), white lining with a secret purple side seam zip. With so many intersecting seams, the instructions cleverly direct you to not sew to the end of each seam, but stop and backstitch where each intersection will sit. This allows you to fit each piece together accurately to get the beautiful star at the centre front.

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Notes:
1. The bodice is self lined but I added lining to the skirt to be tights-friendly.
2. There is a BEAUTIFUL underrepresented lip shape curve at the back neckline that is very eye catching when your hair is worn up.
3. A print will help disguise any slightly off alignment seams if you’re feeling the pressure to be accurate but an air erasable fine line marker is invaluable to this pattern.
4. I sewed a 6 around the shoulders and chest but blended out to around a 14 in the ribs and waist I also reduced the gathering on the bust by about 4cm by using the markings for size 6. Finally I lowered the bodice 1cm.

B6582
almond rock B6582 vintage sewing

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This pattern is so lovely because it’s modest but interesting and has a surprise dip in the back. After two years in my wardrobe is comes out for weddings, parties, dinners out, work meetings and events, and once, a trip to the ballet! In a complete disregard for the pattern directions I used a viscose from Minerva Crafts. This makes the gathers at the shoulders very pretty, and the skirt extra swishy, but makes the back facing roll out occasionally. This dress is constructed using a partial front and partial facing to create the wrap effect in the upper chest.

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Notes:
1. I had to do a major hollow chest adjustment and full tummy adjustment, plus make the pattern a little more petite.
2. The outer fabric and facing is joined together BEFORE the shoulder seams are sewn, it’s suspicious but trust me, it leads to a neat finish.
3. While viscose is lovely, I’d definitely suggest something less fluid.
4. If you check out my blog there’s a tutorial for making a coordinating belt which is great to finish the look.

B5748

almond rock B5748 vintage sewing

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OOH this one, I’m excited even introducing it. This pattern is great fun to wear as the bodice is flattering, the front cut out and scoop back are both eye catching, and the circle skirt is amazingly big! I used a 60”-wide Liberty carline poplin, which isn’t as nice quality as tana lawn but has a good weight and the print is so lovely, the fabric base doesn’t matter as much. I used a soft cotton lawn as the bodice lining, hemmed with bias binding and installed a lapped zipper.

Notes:
1. This is an great pattern for a beginner as it’s easy to fit and construct, especially if made in a cotton poplin which handles well, is often the standard 60”-wide and comes in so many prints.
2. Bias tape is an excellent way to hem a circle skirt as it stretches to fit the curves. 99% of the time I machine hem circle skirts as life’s too short to sit and hand sew such a large area.
3. Wouldn’t this look good with a bow made from rouleaux loops!

So if you enjoyed all this vintage craziness from me, look out for my BVSA post on the the 15th!

Elsie Overshirt

Hello campers!

I’m loving blogging again. So here’s something else from my huge backlog of finished garments. The pattern is the Elsie woven overshirt from Style Arc patterns.

style arc elsie blouse almond rock

How Style Arc works is that you get a single sized pattern delivered in the post or you can choose a multi-size pdf pattern from their Etsy store plus there are multi-sized paper patterns on Amazon.co.uk now.

The paper patterns have the instructions printed on the same sheet as the pattern pieces so you have to make sure you don’t throw them out accidentally! And only the key directions have illustrations. Sizes range from 4 to 30 and prices are in Australian dollars.

My favourite part is that every hardcopy pattern order comes with a Free bonus pattern. Such a good idea!

style arc elsie blouse almond rock

I ordered Elsie, plus the Posh Top. The free pattern was the Fern Top which wasn’t quite my style so I passed it on to Katie who made this wicked version. Let’s just say that Posh didn’t work out well so you won’t be seeing that one.

Elsie is described as a square shaped shirt with reverse revere, patch pockets and roll up sleeves. There are safari tabs and buttoned cuffs on the sleeves as well. It says to make the blouse is crepe, viscose, silk etc. I chose a random printed viscose from Barry’s in Birmingham and paired this with some white shell shank buttons from my stash.

style arc elsie blouse almond rock

The viscose wrinkles so badly!! But the top sews up really quickly. The revere is sewn in three separate pieces, attached to the front edges, then flipped out and top-stitched in place.

The safari tabs are a good touch too. I’ve always wanted a shirt with them but turns out they tickle when the sleeves are unrolled and the tab is loose on the inside.

style arc elsie blouse almond rock

I’m not massively in love with the high-low hem trend but this one actually pleases me a bit. It’s not too dramatic, I like the split seam and it helps cover my rear a little.

So I better just got to say it. I picked the wrong size. This is size 10 but I really don’t have the shoulders for it. This was sewn as the straight size (no alterations) but now I know the fit I’ll do a small shoulder adjustment and maybe a small bust adjustment too. It’s fine wearing a top underneath. I’ll probably do that even after shrinking the sizing.

style arc elsie blouse almond rock

 I’m still pretty happy with it and have made plans to make a silk version using some gorgeous blue silk with soft pink print that a family friend kindly gifted me.

So there we have it! Can’t wait to snap some more pics and put more garments on the blog. I’m remembering more about why I started my blog and needing a creative outlet from my work. Now my work is very creative and so driven towards a whole community of sewists, it’s nice to come back to my own little space to be a little selfish, just to share my own sewing.

style arc elsie blouse almond rock

New York New York

So if you follow me on social media you’ll have seen a few of my pics of New York where my partner and I had a fun mini break during March.

I thought I’d give a little rundown of the stitchy highlights in case you were interested!
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So the day my issue went to the printers I fled the office and whizzed down to London. In publishing this is generally the best time to take a holiday. This was my second visit to New York but my first since taking up sewing.

We flew from Heathrow and landed in NYC Thursday lunchtime. It was fantastic weather! Totally unseasonal, it was 24° so I got changed into a dress and strolled around Central Park in the sun.
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We stayed in the Empire Hotel (yes the Chuck Bass hotel) which was only a short walk from the park. And a quick stroll up to the statue of the garment worker and also button and needle statue.

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Friday was a special day because I got to visit the McCall’s head office and have a tour. The team was wonderful and explained how they work which had quite a few similarities to my office though on a bigger scale. I’m going to run a piece on the team in the magazine soon. I wore my Liberty wildflowers Vogue 1102 dress in honour of the day.
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The office is decorated with wonderful illustrations and sewing ephemera and mannequins of all sizes fill the corners. Obviously I can’t reveal too much as I was able to see some upcoming collections that need to stay secret for the time being. But seeing pattern draping in action was a thrill.

After that we went to the World Trade Centre and memorial which was incredible moving and emotional. Plus we walked over the Brooklyn Bridge just before sunset.

Saturday and Sunday involved lot more touristy trips using our City Passes to hit every major landmark/museum/gallery. Plus we got to see Mathilde on Broadway which was fantastic!
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I was so excited about Monday I barely slept. This was the day I met up with Karen, Sonja, Charlotte and Emma Jayne! Plus Peter joined us for a little bit too which was fantastic. The only bad thing was the rain! We headed to the garment district visiting Mood fabrics first. Its pretty overwhelming as bolts are stacked so high you have to either know what you’re after or rummage. Swatch is uber adorable though!
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In a bid to avoid panicking I decided to look for cotton eyelet as it’s so rare in the UK. And once I’d picked some out I looked over the scuba. I bought two lengths, enough for dresses and stopped there.
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After that we braved Elliott Berman and were again overwhelmed with choice. Technically they sell wholesale but they don’t mind selling small lengths in the shop. I chose some silly galloping horses/llamas on viscose (Karen bought the same print in a different colourway on jersey). Plus some viscose challis from France in a stunning floral design. Its so light and cool to the touch. I’m in love.
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Next we went to an amazing notions place and I found a perfect complimentary colour zip for my eyelet. Emma Jayne found the perfect colour metal zip for her coat project too! Winning!! They also had cool things like corduroy bias binding and colourful gadgets

Surprisingly this took a lot of time and we called it a day at that! Charlotte and I picked up our other halves and the four of us had an awesome pizza lunch then headed out to the ice hockey as a group later that night! It was a pretty epic game in fact and we all got free bobbleheads to bring home hahah.

Tuesday was our last day and we tried to fit in the final touristy bits including present shopping and one last dash into Mood. I picked this silk that is so pretty in person. It has embroidered small blooms as well as the large watercolour flowers. It was labelled “famous designer silk”. That’s a bit weird when they name everyone else but hey whatever.
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So there you go! They were my sewing related highlights. Sorry I don’t have a super specific garment district guide for you, I just really wanted to go to Mood having seen it so many times on Project Runway hehehe.

It was really great to hang out with such lovely people and even better that all my purchases fit in my suitcase home!